Can transition period be a long-term excuse for a top international team to overshadow continuous poor performances?
In an ideal world, it should not, but unfortunately, there is nothing ideal in Sri Lanka Cricket at this point of time.
“You can’t say every time that this is our transition period. We need to put our hands up and come up with results. All players should take responsibility for the opportunities they get. The players are all working hard, and hopefully, we’ll be able to see the results soon,” this is what Dinesh Chandimal, the current Test captain had mentioned, earlier this year, following an ODI defeat against Bangladesh.
However, following the surrender against India in the first two Tests of the ongoing series, it seems there have not been enough efforts from the players to follow Chandimal’s advice.
There is no denial that presently, amongst the four sub-continental sides, Sri Lanka have the weakest team. There is hardly any spark in their recent performances. On the field, the cricketers are putting down their guns without any fight and outside the ex-cricketers and administrators are busy with their power-battles. The situation can be safely termed as a ‘crisis’.
The hollowness which has been created following the retirements of the greats like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena and other legends of the yesteryears doesn’t seem to be fulfilled in the near future, at least under present circumstances.
In fact, according to Asanka Gurusinha, one of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup heroes and the current manager of the team, country’s cricket is paying the price of SLC’s (Sri Lanka Cricket) reluctance and lack of proper planning towards grooming the replacements of the legends.
“The main reason why the rebuilding phase is taking long because there was never an emphasis on grooming new talent once Kumar and Mahela were reaching the end of their careers. We simply didn’t groom anyone to replace the duo,” Gurusinha told in a media interaction on the sidelines of Sri Lanka’s campaign in the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy in England.
“When Mahela, Kumar and Dilshan [Tillakaratne Dilshan] were there, they didn’t need us as there was in-house experience to guide them. We had a really good team. But now it is an inexperienced team and when Aravinda de Silva called me and asked why don’t I help the Sri Lankan team with a roadmap, I agreed. I want to take them to next level,” he further added.
Well, indeed cricket in Sri Lanka has reached a new level, but unfortunately, it is in the opposite direction.
According to Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s only World Cup winning captain, more than the players, the system should be blamed for this disaster.
“You can’t blame some of the youngsters when they get into the system, they were promoted by managers and agents, and the agents used to tell them what to do and what not to do. It was not their parents or wives or the family. Ultimately, they were controlled and run by so called agents. And these agents getting into selections, they get hold of some of the young cricketers, some of the cricketers were ruined because of them because if they don’t agree to sign with them, the seniors could harass them. It has happened to a lot of cricketers. I’m sure one of these days, people will come out and talk about it,” Ranatunga recently told a group of Indian journalists, who are covering the ongoing series on the island.
Well, irrespective of whether the agents have any influence or not, the inconsistency in the section policy has to be blamed for this scarcity of properly groomed young cricketers in Sri Lanka cricket right now. Often, it has been noticed that the national sectors out of the blue, draft a rookie in the team, but after a few initial failures, he is being replaced by someone else. With this process in place, the young talents are not getting enough exposure and confidence.
Unfortunately, this trial and error method of selection is taking place even in the tenure of chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, who, being a successful international cricketer himself, should understand the mindset of a young and upcoming cricketer.
The scarcity, however, will rise in near future as seniors like Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath — two of the most reliable options in the bowling department (In white-ball and red-ball cricket respectively) are at the fag end of their careers.
Thus, it seems the current crisis is a bit like a black hole, which is swallowing the entire cricketing culture of Sri Lanka. I hope, they do not meet the fate of West Indies cricket, on the other side of this so called “transition period”.